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The Legal Illusion Of A Doctor’s Note: Why Employers Should Use Discharge Letters

What will arrive first: the employee with their doctor's note or the employer with the discharge letter?

Most employers have come to view sick leave notes as a farce. Yet, when I suggest an employer client provide an employee with a warning letter, I am increasingly met with reluctance. Clients express concern the employee will rush to the nearest clinic in an attempt to save their job. Even union representatives seldom treat doctors' notes seriously.

I sometimes joke, but only slightly, that, if given a few hours, I could find a doctor to certify I am pregnant. There are enough doctors sufficiently patient-friendly that they certify illness with little examination or question. In the case of clinic doctors, it may be the first time they have attended to the patient.

It is not that these doctors are necessarily lazy or dishonest; most lack sufficient expertise to diagnose, a psychiatric disability for example, and with a quick Internet search, employees can easily ascertain what s...

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